I still remember when the kids were young and an unbroken night sleep was bliss, however, being unable to sleep night after night will have a negative affect on our health. Over a longer period of time lack of sleep can compromise the efficiency of the immune system, clarity of thinking and concentration which results in lack of energy and stamina. This then causes elevated stress and anxiety levels and will throw the hormonal system out of balance both for men and women. So a good night sleep is vital to our physical, mental and psychological health.
To start understanding what causes sleep disturbances it will be easier to look at two main patterns:
– Difficulty in falling off to sleep;
– Falling asleep easily, but then waking up during the night;
As usual, my explanation will come from a Chinese Medicine point of view (and will be followed by science).
The first pattern relates to the mind being too busy, too Yang, while the second relates to what the Chinese explain as ‘not enough blood’ ,Yin. In Western terms, anaemia will be the closest to explain it although that will not always show in a blood test, but rather as pale tongue and nails.
Just a short reminder about Yin & Yang. I’m sure you all know the symbol that represents the flow of life: the cycle of the Seasons from Summer to Winter; Hot and Cold: Day and Night; Male and Female; Activity and Rest, all the polarities of life…
The role of Yin & Yang is that Yin Supports Yang and Yang Moves The Yin.
Not being able to go to sleep at night, which is Yang in nature, means the mind is too active and it therefore keeps you awake. If you do not have enough Yin energy in the body (blood) when it is the Yinest time of the day, the Yang will rise up (as the Yin does not support it) and will wake you up.
I hope you are still with me… but if it does not make sense to you, then here is the western, scientific explanation from Gaia’s Nutritional Therapist Cornelia with some ideas that may help:
“If you are experiencing difficulties getting to sleep you may be suffering from low melatonin levels. Melatonin is manufactured deep in the brain in the pineal gland from serotonin so it is important for the body to get all the precursors for serotonin production such as 5-hydroxytryptophan, vitamin B3 & B6, zinc, folic acid. Also to ensure sufficient melatonin production complete darkness in the bedroom is essential so all electrical lights/equipment should be turned off and you may need to invest in blackout blinds.
If, on the other hand your problem is waking early in the morning with heart palpitations then you may be suffering from blood sugar lows and may need to support blood sugar with a complex carbohydrate last thing at night such as an oat cake or support the adrenals with an adaptogenic herb such as Rhodiola.
You can also try:
- Meditation and by that I mean that for about 3 times a day you should stop for about 10 minutes and do NOTHING. No tea, TV, phone or magazines, just sit, close your eyes and rest. You can breath deeply and pull you energy back into you body. This allows your body and your mind time to gather your energy and assimilate the activities of the day. Meditate little and often, so that you mind does not need to do this during the night and keep you awake.
- Go to bed before 11pm.
- Stay in bed even if you can’t fall a sleep or wake up at night.
In the meantime, enjoy a sweet, nourishing good night sleep!
Gaia Natural Health
PS: The information provided is to be used at your own choice and risk. If in doubt, for chronic conditions and when taking other medications always consult a professional health practitioner or your doctor. Always read the instruction on the pack and follow them carefully.